The Strangest Secret Review: Earl Nightingale’s Success Manual

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In 1956, Earl Nightingale recorded an audio called “The Strangest Secret.” The small group of salesmen that Earl recorded the audio for enjoyed it so much that they requested copies for sharing with their family and friends. The demand didn’t stop there though. Soon after that, based on word of mouth, over a million copies were sold.The-Strangest-Secret-book-cover

“The Strangest Secret” is widely considered to be the start of what is now the ever-expanding and extremely wide-reaching personal development / self-help industry. That’s quite the accomplishment for an audio that was less than 40 minutes long!

I’ve listened to the audio many times, and I’ve read the book version multiple times, too. I’ll share with you some highlights of Earl Nightingale’s success manual in this review of “The Strangest Secret.”

What Is Success?

Here is Earl’s definition of success:

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” – Earl Nightingale

If you’re working towards a goal or goals of your own choosing and you know where you’re going, then you’re a success. It’s that simple.

“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” – Earl Nightingale

And that refers to what the strangest secret is and how to use it in your favor.

What Is the Strangest Secret?

The strangest secret is contained in only 6 words.

We become what we think about.” – Earl Nightingale

Earl calls those 6 words “the key to success and the key to failure.” And he’s right. If you think positive thoughts, you get success. If you think negative thoughts, you get failure. Thoughts lead to actions, and actions lead to the results that we get.

“A person who is thinking about a concrete and worthwhile goal is going to reach it because that’s what he is thinking about, and we become what we think about. … Work steadily towards your goal, and it will become a reality. … Think about your goal in a relaxed way. Picture yourself … as having already achieved this goal. See yourself doing the things that you will be doing when you’ve reached your goal.” – Earl Nightingale

“We become what we think about” is the strangest secret. Very few people who have learned it have understood it. And those very few people have been willing to pay the price for their success.

The Price of Success

Success doesn’t come without a price, and those who are willing to pay the price are the ones who succeed.

Earl states that the price of success is many things, and they are:

  1. Understand that you become what you think about.
  2. Use your imagination.
  3. Concentrate on your goal(s) daily.
  4. Save 10% or more of what you earn.
  5. Take action on your goal(s).

Earl also shares six steps for success, which were written by psychiatrist David Fink, M.D.

  1. Set a definite goal.
  2. Quit running yourself down.
  3. Think of all the reasons you can succeed.
  4. Look back to your childhood and discover where you first thought you can’t be a success.
  5. Write a description of the person you’d like to be.
  6. Act as the successful person you’ve decided to be.

Now you get to pay the price for your success as you apply your own 30 day experiment.

Your 30 Day Experiment

“Write on a card what … you want more than anything else. … Make sure it is a single goal and clearly defined. … Look at it several times a day. Think about it in a cheerful, relaxed, positive way.” – Earl Nightingale

Each time you have a negative thought, think of your positive, worthwhile goal instead.

“For 30 days, you must take control of your mind. It will think only about what you permit it to think. Each day, for this 30 day test, do more than you have to do. In addition to maintaining a cheerful, positive outlook, give of yourself more than you’ve ever done before. … Don’t concern yourself too much with how you’re going to achieve your goal. … All you have to do is know WHERE you’re going. The answers will come to you of their own accord.” – Earl Nightingale

Here’s what might be the most difficult part of the 30 day experiment. If you’re thinking too negatively and not having enough control over your own thoughts, then start over again and go 30 more days. Keep starting over again if you have to. Eventually, you’ll build the habit of constantly thinking positively.

I’ve had to start my 30 day experiment over again multiple times. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy.

“Don’t forget the card. It is vitally important as you begin this new way of living. On one side of the card, write your goal, whatever it may be.” – Earl Nightingale

On the other side of the card, write the quote “Ask, and it shall be given. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door shall be opened.”

Also, read books that instruct and inspire you during your 30 day experiment. Keep your inspiration high.

“Nothing great was ever accomplished without inspiration.”- Earl Nightingale

Remind yourself regularly of what you must do during your 30 day experiment, and have at least 1 person that you can rely on to help keep you accountable as you create your new habit of positive thinking and positive action.

“The only way to earn money is by providing people with services or products which are needed and useful. … Success is not the result of making money. Making money is the result of success, and success is in direct proportion to our service. … We’ve got to be of service first before we can expect money. Don’t concern yourself with the money. Be of service. Build. Work. Dream. Create. Do this, and you’ll find that there is no limit to the prosperity and abudance that will come to you.” – Earl Nightingale

Earl recommends that you do your 30 day experiment and then keep repeating it.

“Each time, it will become more a part of you until you wonder how you could ever have lived any other way. … Start today. You have nothing to lose, but you have a life to win.” – Earl Nightingale


You become what you think about. There is no break from that. It is always happening, whether you want it to or not. So, either you become positively a success by thinking positive thoughts or you experience failure by thinking negative thoughts. Thoughts lead to actions, and actions lead to results. You have the choice of what those results are, every second of your life. And it all starts with what you think about.The-Strangest-Secret-book-cover

Countless people have benefitted from Earl Nightingale’s message in “The Strangest Secret,” either directly or indirectly. Now it’s your turn. Apply the 30 day experiment, and repeat it for the rest of your life.

“Pay the price by becoming the person you want to become. It’s not nearly as difficult as living unsuccessfully.” – Earl Nightingale

There is more contained in “The Strangest Secret” than what I’ve shared with you here. It is an excellent message, always relevant, always timely, and always necessary. And it’s a message that I’ve returned to many times. I find value in “The Strangest Secret” every time I listen to it or read it. And I suspect you will, too.

Buy “The Strangest Secret,” apply the 30 day experiment, and let me know about your results from that in the comments section below.

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Until next time,

James Barnett

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